A little over 6 years ago I was excited to be bringing a little boy into the world but joy turned to fear quickly. I was at a local hospital getting ultrasounds done when they told me we needed to go to our Children’s Hospital to see neurology. A week later we were at CHOP and going through a days worth of tests. We saw a geneticist, I had a fetal MRI, we had regular ultrasounds followed by fetal echos and we expected at the end of the day to be told everything was fine but boy were we wrong. We entered a conference room with 3 teams of doctors; neurology, urology and cardiology. The neurologist went first and assured us that he didn’t have a tumor and that it was just extra fluid in the back of his brain that would go away on its own. The urologist assured us that his kidney function was good and the larger size was normal in boys and would likely go away on its own. The cardiologist told us there was an issue. In shock we listened closely as they explained what a double aortic arch was; an anomaly that occurred when the aorta grows into two branches instead of one and where the branches wrap around the trachea and esophagus enclosing them which ultimately could cause constriction making it difficult to breathe or swallow. In disbelief the doctors cleared out and we were left with our emotions…for me tears. A few months from this diagnosis I was induced and brought our amazing fighter Brayden into the world. He spent the night in the cardiac intensive care unit and was later moved to the cardiac care unit where he remained until he was discharged two days later.
Things were smooth sailing until he was 4 months old and when I say smooth sailing I mean as smooth as it can be with a first time mom trying to figure out not only parenting but how to handle a child with what was at the time an uncertain future. It was almost like I was living with a bomb and I just didn’t know when it was going to go off. The bomb dropped in March of 2012 when the cardiologist confirmed my greatest fear – we needed to cut the left branch to allow him to be able to breathe easier aka surgery. A few weeks later on March 23rd I handed my 5 month old over to his amazing surgeon that corrected his defect. Since then we have had other visits to the OR, luckily un heart related, and we have come to a clear view of what normal was for him and what his symptoms were when something was going wrong.
Two years after surgery his sister was also born with a heart defect thankfully it was minor and didn’t require surgical intervention.
Since Brayden was born we have strived as a family to give back. We started Brayden’s Happy Heart where we sent blankets to other heart children and we’ve participated in yearly heart walks and Make a Wish walks. We are also looking for a ways to help other families.
For Brayden’s 4th birthday party we were throwing around party ideas when Brayden became very adamant that he wanted a Hot Wheels theme. To be honest I shouldn’t have been surprised based off the hundreds of Hot Wheels he owned and played with daily. His godmother and I searched on Pinterest for ideas and saw that one family set a bin up for people to drop Hot Wheels in for the birthday boy. We loved the idea but agreeing he really didn’t need that many Hot Wheels we decided it would be great to collect and donate them. We discussed a few options and after having to rule a couple out I explained to Brayden where we could donate them and he agreed on Toys for Tots. His birthday being in October this was the perfect place to make the donation. His first year of collecting surpassed what I ever imagined at 452 Hot Wheels! Year two we decided to set our sights higher and wanted to hit 800, he broke that with 857! Even better our local news did a story on him and his donation which they aired on Christmas Eve.
Now we are on a new journey in Arizona and Brayden has set his sights high at beating his 857 total from last year and thats where we need your help. Being in a new place means less connections with people to help us collect. If you can find it in your heart to contribute to an amazing little boys hopes of giving back please email – firstname.lastname@example.org for the address to send them to or you can make a monetary donation on PayPal to email@example.com and Brayden will pick out the Hot Wheels himself.
Thank you in advance to anyone who finds it in their heart to help Brayden on his journey of giving back.